A Tale of Two Theaters

Sister theaters provide options for Grossmont’s performing arts.

The Performing and Visual Arts Center (PVAC) is the new theater building on the Grossmont College campus.

Built before the pandemic hit, its very first show was supposed to be staged in 2020. But when the world shut down due to COVID-19, that would never occur.

Now it is 2023 and people want to know what the PVAC is used for, especially with the Stagehouse Theatre doing more of the shows and performances since coming back from the pandemic.

Since the Stagehouse Theatre is the most actively used venue between the two, it can be confusing to understand the difference between them and why the PVAC was constructed in the first place. To answer that, Theatre Arts Department Co-Chair Craig Everett provided some detailed context to the situation.

“The Stagehouse Theatre began in 1967 and underwent a major remodel in 1995,” he explained. “The PVAC came out of a 14-year gestation period, giving birth to a building right as the pandemic turned the world off in 2020.”

The construction of the East County Performing Arts Center, also called ECPAC or Theater East, affected planned construction on campus.

When the theater was built in El Cajon in the early 1970s, “the campus was left without a large format performance venue,” Everett said. “Originally, there was supposed to be a 1,200-seat theater next to Building 21. Theatre East put the kibosh on that.”

The deed to Theatre East was handed to the city of El Cajon, which put the potential for a new large performance facility “back on the radar,” Everett said.

“Then a miracle occurred,” he added. “The voters of East County approved a bond measure, and everything went perfectly well after that, give or take everything that didn’t go perfectly well.”

According to Everett, Stagehouse is used Monday through Saturday, days and nights, for classes, rehearsals and performances during the school year. The PVAC is used weekly, Wednesday through Saturday, for rehearsals and performances by on-campus groups. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it is often getting reset for whatever is next.

Some students like Jesamyn Golding have expressed enjoyment over having the presence of both arts centers at the college.

“I like having both theaters on campus,” Golding said. “Though I have only ever been in the Stagehouse Theatre, I would love to get the opportunity to see something take place in the new PVAC.”
Golding continued: “I am not surprised to hear that the theaters work together. I am a part of theater in the community, and many community theaters help each other. So, to see how our two campus theaters work together like a small theater family.”

Hopefully, moving forward students will get more opportunities to understand the history and purpose of Grossmont’s new arts center and how much both theaters help to strengthen the college’s performing arts program.